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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 2020-21 Supplemental Essay Guide

Regular Decision: 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 2020-21 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 2 essays of 300-400 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why

This section is an important factor in our evaluation, so take your time. We appreciate creativity, but also make sure you’re answering the prompt in full. We recommend you review college-specific criteria for your selected major(s) before completing the essay(s). We encourage you to write your essay in a word processing program and then copy and paste. Special formatting will not carry over. The requested essay must be submitted in English. Please note that we don’t require the Coalition essay and do not have access to it. If you provided any information there that you feel is appropriate for our prompt, please copy over.


Explain your academic interests and strengths or your future career goals. You may include any majors or areas of study you are currently considering.

For this essay, let’s go beyond, “I like to read, so majoring in English will be a great fit for me.” We get it, you’re bookish. But how might courses and professors (get specific!) at UI-Urbana-Champaign shape you and help you further your goals? For instance, you may have read Romeo and Juliet in high school, but what about Shakespeare’s sonnets or the historical context of his work in Elizabethan England? In college, you will reach new depths of knowledge you may not have even known existed. After explaining why your major piques your interest, describe the experiences you’ve had with it already. Did you work on a science experiment that taught you about the basics of organic chemistry? Maybe you watched those crazy robotics videos online and thought, “Hmm, I should understand how those work so I can protect my future family when A.I. takes over in 2050.” (I mean, honestly, have they not watched Black Mirror?!) Throughout high school, you’ve been exposed to so many different subjects, and UI-Urbana-Champaign wants to know why this one in particular has caught your eye. Finally, look ahead five or ten years and imagine how this degree will catapult you into a fulfilling career that you may not have access to otherwise. 


You have selected a second choice major. Please explain your interest in this major. (Only if students select a second choice major other than Division of General Studies.)

For this essay, admissions understands that you haven’t got it all figured out yet. And that’s okay! A lot of very successful people have leapt in and out of various disciplines, or even found common ground where they overlap (think philosophy and economics or agriculture and business). You’re allowed (no, encouraged) to have many interests, and admissions wants to know where your strengths lie. Why does this secondary area of education appeal to you? What applications can you see blossoming from studying in this field? We recommend doing another dive into their course offerings to show that this isn’t just an afterthought; additionally, feel free to share any previous experiences (in or out of the classroom) that have led you to this choice. 

Please note: the information below relates to last year's essay prompts. We are going to update this guide with the prompts for 2021-22 as soon as they become available. Check back soon!
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